Hi Paul, how are you lately?
All is fine, we just began rehearsing for the new CD. Things are going quite well at the moment with the South American journey coming up after we record the record, followed by another European trek beginning on March 5th in Berlin. I am really busy these days and the future looks quite interesting. We will play arend 53 shows from now until April of 2010. So I guess I can’t complain.
How come you're at home and not on the road?
I cannot be on the road the entire year, I have a house and a family to take care of. Actually I rather enjoy the rest at home from time to time. I will be leaving again for 14 days on the road with Six Feet Under and Illdisposed on the 30th of November as the merchandiser of Illdisposed and the other support bands this time. So as they say, no rest for the wicked. As well, I need to finish writing and recording the next CD, so this takes a bit of time.
I'm compiling these questions without having your bio in front of me because if I would, it would come out as a 100 questions intie, and also a very long, informative and interesting bio is posted on your page for whoever interested. How do you see yourself after all these years of extreme metal? Do you live the life you wanted? Anything you would change?
Of course I enjoy the life I lead these days, afterall, I live from the music in one form or another. I have to go on the road and do merch or tour management throughout the year, but along with touring and royalties, I make a decent living. So what more could I ask for. Hindsight is 20/20 anyway, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Back in the early days the original drummer Bill Schmidt and I were pretty connected to cocaine and marihuana, as well as experimenting with other drugs and things were a bit crazy then. Life is much more laid back these days. Of course we made a big mistake not signing the Combat contract, but in the end, one of us would have died for sure if the contract went through.
I've read on your website about the incident with Krabathor in Hungary. Was that your biggest incident during the time?
No. Many things happen that are crazy on the road, but I live for these adventures for sure. I remember being pulled off the bus in Mexico with the guys in Krabathor and searched for drugs. Only we didn’t have any and the Mexican border guards threatened to leave the Czech guys in jail for the night if we didn’t cough up the drugs that we never had. They ended up letting us go after and hour or so, but not before stealing 50 bucks from my wallet. But hey, what could we do, call the police, They were the police.
What about the funniest thing you remember from the road?
I was on the road with Illdisposed when there former guitarist Lasser, decided to get off the bus and take a piss. The tour manager and I smiled as he dropped his pants to his ankles, pissed, and fell asleep a minute later in the snow with his pants still at his ankles. That’s the one thing I enjoy about working with so many bands every year. Some can do the silliest things while intoxicated or on drugs. It’s often a fucking blast.
You live in Czech Republic now. How do you see the differences between US and Europe? I guess those differences made you move here in the first place, correct?
There is and always has been more freedom here in Europe. I noticed this the last time I came in 1998 after living in America for so many years. People are just more laid back and relaxed here. Hell, even the police have a more laid back attitude. America has become a police state. I really noticed this on the last few tours in the USA. Police continually roam the highways and byways looking for a bust. Freedom is a thing of the past in the USA. When I was younger there wasn’t so much control by the authorities. Today kids cannot get away with anything. We used to drink and drive when I was younger. Today this isn’t possible. You have to watch your back over there. My brother and I spoke on skype the other day and he said that 7 people were killed in his neighborhood in Kankakee, Illinois. He also said that there have been drive-by shootings over the last few days. He told me he is thinking about arming himself against the minorities that have moved into his neighborhood. I don’t have to worry about these difficulties where I live now. Ok, maybe a drunk may stumble and fall in the neigborhood down the street, but this is far less difficult than arming myself.
Do you still practice your bass at home (so not at rehearsals with the bands)? What new things/tricks have you learned recently and where from?
I should probably practice more, but I usually practice a few months before a tour in preperation for the oncoming battle. I usually play guitar more than bass when I am at home. I haven’t learned anything new really. I still play the same style I always have. To be honest I was a much better bassist when I was in the band Warcry. When we began Master and Deathstrike I simplified my technique, nowadays I am actually playing more difficult licks on the later Master albums than in the beginning.
I still however feel less is more. I am more into the heaviness of a band versus ten milion riffs per second. I would rather listen to old Heavy Metal than any of the latest technical bands of the day.
There is Thrash Metal resurgance going on and this is pretty cool with bands like Suicidal Angels from Greece and a few others.
You're amongst the founders/initiators of the death metal movement, but some do not recognize this. How does that make you feel?
It really doesn’t matter to me so much anymore. I mean it’s cool when bands like Napalm Death cover Master songs. Respect is the key thing and many of the icons of the genre respect Master and have at least heard of the band. On the last US tour legends like Joe Caper, and Chris Reifert came to some shows and really enjoyed the shows and this also important. One important thing I can say is that I can go to bed at night with a clear consience knowing that I was one of the first to write and play this music, and wasn’t copying others of the genre. My influences were Sabbath, Purple, GBH, The Exploited, Venom and Discharge.
I know you hate death metal with keyboards. What about Nocturnus' type of keyboards? And what are your feelings about the new wave of brutal death metal, extremely technical and fast?
I guess I am too old, because I really cannot understand where the genre has gone today. I would still rather here early Possessed or Carcass, or Massacre and Autopsy. Speed is for Speed Metal.
This year you had a US Tour with Master, how was it to return home, in Illinois. Have you visited Chicago as well?
Yes it was great to return in October 2008 and July 2009 to the USA and play to packed houses. I mean some shows were bunk, but many kicked ass. The shows in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Hollyweird were killer. It was cool to visit Chicago after so many years for sure. I was surprised when guys like Alex Olvera from Funeral Bitch as well as Schaefer from Abomination, and even Mittelbrun from Deathstrike and Master showed up at the last show in the Windy City. The show at the CIM Festival was a bit of a joke this year with a lame sound engineer, but at least I got to see some of my old buddies again like Mark Sawackis and hang out with John and Jill from Incantation and Funerus as well as see Sammy and Ben again from Goatwhore. Hopefully I will make it the journey to the US again next year.
How come your deal with Displeased ended? What do you expect from Pulverised now?
The Displeased deal is ongoing, They will continue to re-release many of the old CDS I suppose for years to come. We have a great understanding and they also do a killer job for me. Pulverised is pouring a lot of cash into the new Master release and already has begun promoting the band and the new CD hasn’t even been recorded yet. I always have said over the years that if a professional label such as Pulverised Records would put time and effort into a Master release than we would both reap the rewards and I am sure this will soon happen once again.
Please tell us a bit about your upcoming album, "The Human Machine". What can we expect to find on it?
You will find some of the best Master songs ever written. I have have been working on the tracks for several months at home now and I expect everyone will be surprised.
Is there a lyrical concept behind it? Where will it be recorded?
We are all working for the societies and governments of our nations and it’s time we broke away from this farce and become free again. We are all human machines working for the brass upstairs.
The goverments of the world must be removed from power. The youth of today must take a stand against these politicians and form a truly free society once gain. But I am afraid this will never happen. I can only write about it and hope for the best. Because freedom is nearly lost. Every year the US government implements more technology designed to manipulate, control, and remove freedom from its citizins as well as the rest of the so-called free world.
I know you like fishing. Do you still have time for that? What types of fish do you go after and where? What's you're biggest capture so far? Are you a catch & release guy like I am, or do you like your fish released in the owen? :)
I try and go fishing whenever I have time, mainly in the summer of course, but I realise fishing can be done all year. I really haven’t gone ice fishing for about twenty years, but it was fun though. I go fishing in the nearby Morava River a few miles from the house, or a block from my father inlaws house. I recently discovered a new fishing hole over near my new house, so next year I will take a crack at it. The weather dropped to about 30 degrees in the last day or so, so i won’t be fishing for while. People here fish for catfish, trout and a delicacy over here, carp. I was taken aback when I first came here in 1999 and they told me that carp was the Christmas dinner. I remember back in the day in Illinois, only the brothers took the carp home for eating. Everyone I know killed the suckerfish usually. But live and learn. Over here in Europe many countries eat this fish, and I have to say that after trying it I was presently surprised. It’s best deep fried. I mostly catch and release unless it’s decent size and meets the legal requirement.
What other hobbies do you have? Do you like sports? How do you, as an American, like our kind of football?
I hate sports. I like bike riding in the forest in the summer. When I ride there’s no one there. It’s quiet in the woods and this is a plus after all the noise of Metal all the time on tour. I used to lift weights as a teenager, but it’s of no real interest to me anymore. Football, soccer, the same boring shit too me, but no offence to the ones who like this. There’s nothing like watching the news and seeing the hooligans beating the shit out of each other over a stupid game and then getting beaten and arrested by the cops. Hell, this is family entertainment over here afterall. I think I’d rather go to a Motorhead concert.
Ok, back to the album, when it is supposed to be released? What do you expect from it?
It will be released in March 2010 followed by another European Tour. I expect the same as always except probably better sales figures this time as the label has great distribution and will begin promoting in a major way very soon. Time will tell.
Will there be any changes at all in Master's music?
Master always uses the same formula when recording and I write about what’s happening in the world during a current time. There’s no need for a change. I write what comes from the heart and this is what it’s all about as far as I am concerned. Maybe a Satanic album would sell better for me, but I am not interested in those themes anymore. The first Abomination cover was about as Satanic as it gets for me.
Thanks a lot for your time Paul. At the end of this intie please tell us a bit about your upcoming (hopefully) book. Have a great time in your South American tour!
I have written a book about some of my adventures across the frontier of my life. Some stories about others, and many stories about myself and growing up in the Metal scene. The book titled Speckmann, Surviving the underground will hopefully be released one day if I ever find a publisher that believes in it. I certainly found label that does, next is a publisher. Thanks for the interest in doing this interview my friend. Paul Speckmann
Interview by Adrian